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Summary: What does God’s Word actually say about the approach of the end times?

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BIRTH PANGS

Pastor Eric J. Hanson

September 4, 2005 &

February 24, 2008

BACKGROUND

The Bible has a lot to say about the conditions that will be prevailing on planet Earth as the end of this age approaches. The Earth has been in the Church age, the current age for some 1977 years as of now. Arnold Fruictinbaum is an expert on Roman history, Jewish Law, the Herods, and pinpointing the dates of events. He notes with some certainty, that the birth of Jesus Christ, had to have happened at some point in what we call 3 BC, and His crucifixion took place in what we call the year 30 AD. Taking his work, and that of many other scholars into account, we can calculate that we are a mere 25 years from the 2000 anniversary of the beginning of this age. 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was a little boy.

Many people predicted that this age would end in 2000 or 2001. They attached great importance to numbers on the calendar. In light of Bible prophecy, this was not, and is not wise.

We have been careful here at Hosanna Church, to not engage in extra-biblical speculations and theories concerning when Jesus Christ will return. We have seen many strange things come and go, such as the best selling book, 88 Reasons why the Rapture Will Occur in 1988. All such books and predictions are not good, because Jesus himself said, regarding the end of the age, “No man knows the day or the hour; not the Angels in Heaven, or even the Son of Man. Only the Father knows.”

Your pastors have been careful to avoid engaging in the type of “almost date setting” that was very widespread in the 1970s and is popular in some Church circles today. It wasn’t always that way for me.

When I was in Bible College in Indiana, speculation about this topic dominated our dorm room conversations. All of us were certain that the Lord would return before the decade was over. We were certain that the Arab Oil embargo of 1973, the Yom Kipper war pitting Israel against six Arab nations, and even the numeric value of the letters of Henry Kissinger’s name, which added up to 666, were proofs that the end was at hand.

In the days of Pastor Frank Jernigan, here at Hosanna Church, those of us who were in his “Jesus People Army” (JPA), who hung out at the Christian Coffee House and witnessed in the streets, all agreed together that this age would never see 1980. The movie A Thief in the Night was shown on 16 Millimeter projectors in every believing church, eventually becoming a movie trilogy due to its vast popularity. The book, The Late Great Planet Earth became the best seller of the decade, with its predictions that Jesus would split the sky at any moment. Of course other books, with competing theories on the timing of the Rapture also came out and sold well. One such book was a warning to store up food and head for the caves and the countryside. Its title: Christians Will Go through the Tribulation. When Keith Green left California to go start Last Days Ministries in Texas, many of us thought that this too was a sign that we were, as Hal Lindsay often said, the “terminal generation”, and that there would not be another generation of Christians. This is what it was like in the 1970s among zealous evangelical believers.


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